Acting UEFA chief drops out of race for presidency, leaving two candidates

Acting UEFA president Angel Maria Villar has withdrawn from the race to succeed Michel Platini on a permanent basis.

The 66-year-old Villar, president of the Spanish Football Federation, was competing against Slovenia's Aleksander Ceferin and Dutchman Michael van Praag to become chief of Europe's governing body.

But, as an argument broke out between front-runner Ceferin and Van Praag, Villar announced his decision to pull out of the race in a statement issued via the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Villar said he had carried out the role on an interim basis with "great satisfaction", but decided to remain focused on Spanish football.

"While I have received a great amount of support since then to continue my campaign, after a profound reflection I have decided to withdraw my bid," he said.

"There have been many representatives of Spanish football who have made their voices heard and asked me to continue working for my country's football by submitting a new bid in the next months for my re-election as president of RFEF, to whom I have dedicated most of my life as an official."

Although he has been in the job for almost a year, Villar's interim reign has not been without controversy. A month after he took on the job, he was fined 25,000 Swiss francs and warned by the FIFA ethics committee for failing to cooperate with an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup, which was awarded to Russia.

Villar will remain an influential voice beyond Spain's borders, however, thanks to his positions as a vice-president of the FIFA council and the UEFA executive committee.

His statement added: "I want to finish by wishing the two candidates the best of luck and thanking all of those who have supported me during all of this time, and reassert my commitment to continue working for European and worldwide football from my positions as a vice-president of the FIFA council and the UEFA executive committee."

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